After years of a dearth of new aircraft deliveries, the Air Force will be paid for its patience in 2023.
42 Dassault Rafale for the French Air Force
The 2023 draft defense budget signs, as expected, a new €3bn march, at €43.9bn, compared with €32.3bn in 2017. The €3 billion increase will bring in additional resources for MCO (€550 million) and major programs (€455 million), but a significant portion of this increase will be in payroll (€669 million). 1,500 net new positions have been created, bringing the annual recruitment level to 29,700 (including 24,100 military personnel). The French Air Force will finally be able to resume deliveries of Rafale fighter jets: 13 of them will join the Mont-de-Marsan (8) and Saint Dizier (5) air bases, which in recent years have had to supply 24 of them for exports to Greece and Croatia. 42 Dassault Rafales will also be ordered.
Airbus tankers and transport aircraft
Three Airbus Phenix tankers, two Airbus Atlas transport aircraft, 13 refurbished Mirage 2000Ds and eight PC-21s will be delivered to the Istres, Orleans, Nancy and Cognac bases. 59 renovated SAIM (multi-sensor interpretation assistance system) stations will also be received by intelligence units. The Navy will receive three standard 6 ATL2s (nine of the 18 planned have already been delivered) and five H160s: the first was received at Hyères on 22 September, but these aircraft are only leased to Babcock for 10 years, with associated support. The Army will still receive five Caiman aircraft at Etain and nine SDT drones at Chaumont (the first are expected at the end of the year). The first six Parades anti-drone systems will also be usable, in time for the Rugby World Cup.
MBDA is far from forgotten
The draft budget also, and finally, puts the kibosh on ammunition, but the Ministry of the Armed Forces has declined to detail its list of commissions, for security reasons. Nevertheless, the draft mentions (planned) deliveries of repowered MICA and Exocet ammunition, and confirms the first flight of the new-generation MICA. MBDA is far from being forgotten. Aster 30 Block 1 NT with enhanced capabilities and medium-range missiles are to be ordered, along with equipment for Casa 235, two medical evacuation pallets for the Aster..
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